1. MATTRESS: Which type of mattress is best? The “short answer”: there is no single mattress (style or type) for all people, primarily due to body type, size, gender, and what “feels good.” TRY laying on a variety of mattresses (for several minutes on your back and sides) and check out the difference between coiled, inner springs, foam (of different densities), air, waterbeds, etc. The thickness of a mattress can vary from 7 to 18 inches (~17-45 cm) deep. Avoid mattresses that feel like you’re sleeping in a hammock! A “good” mattress should maintain your natural spinal curves when lying on your sides or back (avoid stomach sleeping in most cases). Try placing a pillow between the knees and “hug” a pillow when side sleeping, as it can act like a “kick stand” and prevent you from rolling onto your stomach. If your budget is tight, you can “cheat” by placing a piece of plywood between the mattress and box spring as a short-term fix.
2. SHOES: Look at the bottom of your favorite pair of shoes and check out the “wear pattern.” If you have worn out soles or heels, you are way overdue for a new pair or a “re-sole” by your local shoe cobbler! If you work on your feet, then it’s even more important for both managing and preventing LBP!
3. DIET: A poor diet leads to obesity, which is a MAJOR cause of LBP. Consider the Paleo or Mediterranean Diet and STAY AWAY from fast food! Identify the two or three “food abuses” you have embraced and eliminate them – things with empty calories like soda, ice cream, chips… you get the picture! Keeping your BMI (Body Mass Index) between 20 and 25 is the goal! Positive “side-effects” include increased longevity, better overall health, and an improved quality of life!
4. EXERCISE: The most effective self-help approach to LBP management is exercise. Studies show those who exercise regularly hurt less, see doctors less, have a higher quality of life, and just feel better! This dovetails with diet in keeping your weight in check as well. Think of hamstring stretches and core strengthening as important LBP managers – USE PROPER TECHNIQUE AND FORM; YOUR DOCTOR OF CHIROPRACTIC CAN GUIDE YOU IN THIS PROCESS!
5. POSTURE: Another important “self-help” trick of the trade is to avoid sitting slumped over with an extreme forward head carriage positions. Remember that every inch your head pokes forwards places an additional ten pounds (~4.5 kg) of load on your upper back muscles to keep your head upright, and sitting slumped increases the load on your entire back!
We have only scratched the surface of some COMMON causes and/or contributors of back pain. Stay tuned next month as we continue this important conversation!
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